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Cat Balaq: a poem

Stealing Sunday Dinner We tell each other stories in a shallow bath, pour them out hot from the tap, let them lap around our knees, smoke a roll up each. Flick ash in a scallop shell. Lean into cold cast iron. Tiles chipped; mold in the corners. Candle nubs propped on the tray between us, bubbles slopping the skin beneath your breasts. The light of the day half dying. Last night's dishes suddless in the sink and the chicken you stole from the shop over the road, uncooked. You wore my black overcoat. It overwhelmed your tiny frame. The pockets long enough to hold truncheons or jars of cranberry sauce. I am overcome with the imperfect moment; too afraid to tell you how real it feels. Your back arching over; the grope for the soap; the stories we tell each other. Later we slip pilfered potatoes into hot oil with salt, allowing our lips to meet. You sit on the counter to reach me as I take the words from your mouth.

Catherine Balaq is an award winning writer and body psychotherapist who has been published in numerous anthologies and journals. Her work has been shortlisted for the Bridport Prize and nominated for the Pushcart Prize. She is co-editor of Black Cat Press. Her debut collection 'animaginary' was published in July 2023 with Black Cat Press. Her second collection 'Deathless' will be published with Verve in October 2024. Catherine also writes novels and is represented by Donald Winchester at Watson Little Agency.

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